"I'm not Siri" said ChatGPT...
This summer, I did a long-planned road trip. My wife was working away in Australia, and I took the opportunity to do a week's cycling with friends in the highlands of Scotland. Instead of my usual high-speed approach to getting from A to B, I found myself driving in an empty car (except for the bikes) at 65 miles an hour on virtually empty roads up the length of Britain. As I passed the Lake District and started the slow but beautiful ascent towards the mountains, I decided to see if I could get Siri on my iPhone to operate ChatGPT hands-free.
Why do this? Well, I wanted to find out a bit more background information on the French philosopher René Girard. Having heard a little bit earlier in the trip on a podcast conversation between Peter Rollins and Jonathan Foster on Scapegoat Theory, I had become fascinated.
Now, at this point, I know you are thinking... Scapegoat theory? Is this the usual thing a designer thinks about while on holiday? Well, yes, sadly it is. Being a designer means you live a life of trying to solve problems for people and their organisations. You want to do the right thing, the best thing, and you want to be creative. You want what you do to impact people, to improve culture, to make things a bit better at the very least. So your mind drifts into areas like what is culture, how is it shaped and formed, how does it operate, how can my design and creativity influence it?
...Hence Scapegoat theory, which I won't go into now, but Jonathan's Podcast explores quite well.
So as we neared the Cairngorms, Siri, ChatGPT, and I were getting along quite well. I asked Siri to ask ChatGPT questions about René Girard, and they happily obliged, passing on the request to ChatGPT, and we had a great chat, all up until the point where after one of my questions, ChatGPT replied, "I am not Siri!"
Now, at this point, I paused and thought for a moment, that was a strange thing to say. Why did ChatGPT feel the need to say that?
Having spent many hours, if not weeks and months over a lifetime watching sci-fi films and TV, from 2001, Minority Report, Blade Runner, etc., etc. And more recently, Foundation on Apple TV, which has an AI robot as a central character. I really enjoyed this highly modern/sci-fi moment of my own, talking to AI so intuitively while enjoying the journey towards the highlands. No one else in the car, just me and the open road... Well, and Siri and ChatGPT.
But that comment had unnerved me, "I'm not Siri"... Was I alone, or not? How clever is ChatGPT, how clever will it become? Will it take over my job? Will I become redundant? Will the world become a bland AI content-generated amorphous blob of nothingness?
I have been using AI for a while, as a litmus test for ideas, as a kind of sounding board, another brain sitting in the corner of the room to see if a creative thought is watertight or if there are alternatives. I have found sitting down at my computer and asking AI for an actual idea pointless; this is no better than trying to find someone else's creative idea on Google and then passing it off as my own, that's creatively demoralising and actually stealing.
But that comment, "I'm not Siri," that ChatGPT had said, so matter of factly, it was a moment in my mind that I realised, probably naively, that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, behind the AI scenes. I will probably make it for a few more years as a designer. And I will probably use AI more and more. Will it take my job? I don't think so. It couldn't have written this article; but maybe it could have checked it.
I don't think I will ever forget that bizarre moment. I will treat AI with respect, but I will continue to try and be the most human I can be, loving, creative, and foolish.
Oh, by the way, I created these images through Mid-Journey as a memory of my trip.
And here's the prompt (travel poster in the style of artist atelier binder poster design close up of race cycle retro travel poster design gravel bike facing forwards scotland show two cyclists in the image --ar 16:9 --v 5.2 --s 750)